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Will Obama Be A Genius?

Mark Steyn: things stand, Obama is damaged. If, as some folks are arguing, hanging with Uncle Jeremiah is simply the price of doing politics in black Chicago, that makes the Senator not the change you can believe in but just the same-old-same-old. And at least a sliver of the electorate will find it hard to accept that even the political realities of Illinois require a man to raise his daughters in a church led by a vulgar kook who makes humping motions from the pulpit when he discusses Bill and Monica. Jeremiah Wright is not most Americans' idea of a pastor, and the longer he's in the spotlight the more he distances Obama from the electorate. Accepting (as everyone assures us) that the candidate himself is not an Afrocentric liberation theologist who believes every crackpot conspiracy of the last 70 years, every other explanation as to why Barack Obama spent two decades in the company of a profane race-baiter leaves the Senator looking either weak or weird. If he can wriggle out of this tonight, he's some kind of genius.

We'll find out. This may be a bridge too far.

[Update a few minutes later]

More trouble for Obama:

Despite his track record of controversy, Obama appointed Sanford as a member of his Hope and Unity central advisory committee. He dismissed complaints about Sanford's earlier statements, calling them "isolated comments of an elderly man with a heart condition who likes to speak his mind."

Harder to dismiss were Sanford's increasingly controversial statements directed toward Hillary Clinton, Obama's rival for the Democratic nomination, which were caught on video and spread throughout the internet. In one speech, Sanford says "I'm gonna push her face in some dough and make some gorilla cookies," and later says "that woman look like a fish head sandwich." In another, Sanford holds up a clear sheet of plastic and taunts Mrs. Clinton to "wear it fo' a Godzilla mask."

At first Mrs.Clinton laughed off Sanford's remarks, and even said she would "welcome Mr. Sanford's help after I am nominated." Mr. Sanford replied that "I'm a junkman, not a plastic surgeon." As the campaign wore on and her lead disappeared, she began responding testily, issuing statements that "God's gonna strike you down Fred Sanford," and "shut up foo'."

Will the controversy never end?

[Update late morning]

Well, if these two snippets are any indication, the speech is less than genius level, at least to me:

For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely - just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

...Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way.

But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth - by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

The nagging questions remain. He's not merely "an occasionally fierce critic of US foreign policy." He's a man who believes that the US government was behind 911. He didn't merely say things that were "controversial." He accused the US government of deliberately creating AIDS and importing cocaine, in order to kill and injure black people. He didn't merely have political views with which one might "disagree." He held (and as far as we know, continues to hold) views that are vile, hateful, and by most lights, insane. I find this minimization and mischaracterization of the remarks to be utterly disingenuous.

As to the last graf, so what if he was a Marine? So was Lee Harvey Oswald. Who cares what other universities and seminaries he lectured at? They are no doubt the same ones that welcome Ward Churchill and Noam Chomsky. And Ahmadinejad.

As I said previously, even if I were a church goer, there are no amounts of good works that would allow me to hold down a pew in the presence of someone who spewed such lunacy from the pulpit. There is simply some bad that cannot be balanced against the good, when it comes to being a member of and donor to a church, and exposing children (of all ages, apparently, to judge by audience reaction) to such bigotry, hatred and idiocy. It's like praising Castro because Cuba has universal health care (ignoring the issue of how good the health care actually is in Cuba--I don't see many people flocking down there for the clinics). But then, many of the people who get funny feelings up their legs listening to Obama are exactly the sort of people who do that, so maybe I'm not the target audience here.

I understand that it's not the whole speech, and I understand that I'm only reacting to the actual words, and not his golden delivery with the halo above his head. (This latter "argument," such as it is, reminds me of people who, to my great amusement, told me that I couldn't and shouldn't judge or criticize Michael Moore's "masterpiece," Farenheit 911 by the screenplay that I read, but that I should instead watch it, as though that would somehow render nonsense sane.)

I doubt it would make a difference. The question for me remains: what was he thinking? And if this is a reliable guide to his judgment, then my judgment is that he would be a disastrous president, probably Carter-like, and an eager coddler and appeaser of dictators.

[Update a few minutes later]

Some Cornerites find some things to like about the speech: was Obama praising the Founders for their ideals. Here he was noting the stain of slavery, but not letting it become THE story of the Founders, but only a part of the story, not letting it press out the reverence the Founders are due.

That might be the lasting legacy of this speech. The Jeremiah Wright controversy will eventually become a footnote in American political history. But the moment of the first serious black contender for the Oval Office speaking with reverence and admiration for slave-owning Founding Fathers, and dismissing explicitly the idea that the United States is, by virtue of the nation's Original Sin of slavery, a fundamentally racist nation, has the potential to become a turning point.

And "he's so clever":

By framing his Rev. Wright problem as part of the unfinished business of America's founding principles, he makes it unpatriotic to turn away from him now. This isn't a Barack Obama problem; it's an American problem that only he can help solve.

Well, no one has accused him of not being a talented orator or politician. But sorry, I'm still more inclined to see it as Obama's problem rather than America's.

Jonah writes:

I thought it was a much better speech than I thought it would be. It had some lovely movements and he came across as a remarkably classy and decent guy. But I think there were some serious logical, philosophical and political flaws to it.


Charlotte Hays shares my opinion about his minimization of the remarks:

Obama is no longer a post-racial candidate. In his speech (it's still going on, but I've heard enough) today, he has embraced the politics of grievance. He says that the Rev. Wright has "elevated what is wrong" with America -- elevated?

Not fabricated but elevated. Does that mean the Rev. Wright is correct about America's deserving the attacks of Sept. 11 -- but he just elevates it to undue prominence? Obama says that we shouldn't "condemn without understanding the roots" of remarks like those Wright made. Whatever the roots, these remarks are to be condemned. Within what context is it correct for the Rev. Wright to say "God damn America?"

Or does it mean that he's correct about the US government deliberately creating AIDS? And he just "elevated" that "issue"?

Sorry, just doesn't wash, no matter in what dulcet tones it's spoken. And it's a good point, as Mark Hemingway expands on, that the real problem is that, no matter how good the speech, the days of Obama as a "post-racial candidate" are over.

[Update in the early afternoon]

Here's the full text. I'm not sure I'm interested or unbusy enough to read the whole thing, but if I get around to it, I may have further comments.

[Update at 3 PM EDT]

John Derbyshire:

The speech is slippery, evasive, dishonest, and sometimes insulting.

Yes, it pays to actually read what he says, rather than just bask in the glow of the flowing oratory.

[Update a few minutes later]

Hmmmm...the Derbyshire post seems to have disappeared. Not sure why. Too bad I didn't grab the whole thing. He provided several examples.


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Barack Obama didn’t follow any of my suggestions for his “major address on racism and religion”; not that I expected him to. What he did say has drawn enthusiastic applause from people who wanted him to wash away whatever doubts Read More


Anonymous wrote:

Fundamentally it comes across as an absolutely honest speech. He didn't try to run away from anything, including his Pastor, and it seems to me this is something he must have been reflecting on for a long time. After all, his very mixed background forced him to confront these issues from childhood.

Whether this issue kills his candidacy or not, he will be remembered for an absolute honesty, for class and grace. This is a fundamentally decent person, something rare in a politician.

Bill White wrote:

Obama is NOT an American black.

His father was not descended from slaves (but his children are). He is also the grandson of a white farmer who fought with General Patton.

Obama has the potential to play a game of "Nixon goes to China" -- he is now ideally situated to TEACH the followers of black liberation theology that their beliefs are "static" and sterile.

If Clarence Thomas or Condi Rice said these words, the people on Chicago's South Side would close their ears and refuse to listen. Obama says these words and maybe they listen:

But the remarks [Reverend Wright] that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country � a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

A Nixon-goes-to-China moment, and Obama is bluntly telling Reverend Wright he is wrong.

Bob wrote:

Rand, Thanks for posting a link to the text of the speech. I hope that when you have time, you watch (or at least read) the whole speech, and after you do, I hope you post your reaction. You've spent a lot of time critcizing Obama this week on the issue of Wright, and it would be great if your view of Obama was informed by his whole speech and not just on a few snippets. I don't expect you to vote for Obama, or to stop criticizing him, but I think your comments about Obama will be sharper and more interesting if you hear the whole speech.

Here's a low-res version - there will probably be better versions out there soon:

Rand Simberg wrote:

I think your comments about Obama will be sharper and more interesting if you hear the whole speech.

I'm sure they will. I'll try to make time to at least read it (I really have no interest in watching it), but it's a busy day.

Bill White wrote:

One thing Obama did say today:

[i]The conflicts in the Middle East emanate primarily from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.[/i]

(The actual sentence was more complex - see above)

If John McCain says that Democrats are not likely to listen. But if Obama says that . . .

Bob wrote:

Addressing Wright's Racism

When I listened to the speech, I was disappointed at first that the speech didn't directly address the stupid comments Wright made about blaming America for 9/11 or HIV/AIDS. But now that I've looked back at the text, I can see that Obama was specifically addressing Wright's comments about race, and the speech that he gave wasn't a speech on all of Wright's comments, but a speech on Wright's racism, which led to a larger conversation about race. I think he may have succeeded in creating a historic speech on race that would have been weighed down by topical references to the specifics of Wrights stupid anti-American conspiracy theories. I hope Obama will address those separately, but really, I don't think it should be necessary for any intelligent patriotic American (let alone a US Senator) to have to say "HIV wasn't caused by the USA" or "terrorists, not America, were responsible for 9/11" -- it should be enough to simply absolutely reject/repudiate/condemn anyone who says such things, particularly when they say them from hatred rather than from some outlandish theory that would need to be specifically debunked.

I think it is important to move past the Fox headline of "Obama won't disown Wright" and read the surrounding paragraphs. He juxtaposes Wright to Ferrarro and to his white grandmother - it is clear that he is talking about race, and not theories about why America is evil. He does obliquely refer back to Wright's American-bashing by pointing out that racists have always been part of America - "America, this country that I love."

Bob wrote:

Also I'm curious whether anyone thinks that Charlotte Hays quotes Obama's use of the word "elevated" out of context.

Obama said, in part of course, "But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm werent simply controversial. They werent simply a religious leaders effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam."

Rand Simberg wrote:

Also I'm curious whether anyone thinks that Charlotte Hays quotes Obama's use of the word "elevated" out of context.

If that's where she pulled the quote, it would seem so.

Isn't it possible to find purportedly mainstream pewrsons and/or elected officials (other than Cynthia McKinney) who believe the whackball claims of the Rev. Wright? I know that this isn't the first I've heard the "US Govt. caused AIDS" theory.

Anonymous wrote:

It was a fucking great speech.

Anonymous wrote:

What about this from the Corner?

Have I missed the competition? [Charles Murray]

I read the various posts here on "The Corner," mostly pretty ho-hum or critical about Obama's speech. Then I figured I'd better read the text (I tried to find a video of it, but couldn't). I've just finished. Has any other major American politician ever made a speech on race that comes even close to this one? As far as I'm concerned, it is just plain flat out brilliantrhetorically, but also in capturing a lot of nuance about race in America. It is so far above the standard we're used to from our pols.... But you know me. Starry-eyed Obama groupie.

Jeff Mauldin wrote:

I'm voting for McCain. That may matter to you for how you interpret this post.

I just read the speech and this is my reaction.

Taken at face value, without considering context or the actions of the person delivering the speech. the first 5 or 5 1/2 pages (of 8) are a great read. Not having seen the speech, I'll assume Obama delivered the speech with his usual oratorical flair.

Also, taken at face value, I'd assume the person giving this speech is not a big believer in "liberation theology" or a gigantic racist.

However, given the context and the actions of Obama, and even (or especially) the defense of Wright in the speech, I'm still left wondering how Obama, claiming to be such a uniter, could consider such a person his spiritual advisor for 20 years.

However, the tail end of the speech shows why I'd never vote for Obama no matter what race he is, or how eloquently he speaks about race.

Apparently, judging from what I know about Obama and judging from the later parts of his speech where he discusses actual problems to be solved, his "change" and solution for uniting everybody will be to socialize health care, further federalize the public school system and throw lots more money (without accountability) down that black hole, and do something about jobs in mills going overseas. I'll admit that I have my own reservations about unfettered free trade (possibly based on my own ignorance), but it sounds like Obama will go for full-fledged protectionism and he seems to want some kind of giant government program to make sure you can't lose your job and all your pension benefits are secure.

I think if Obama didn't excite so many people for emotional reasons, and wasn't such a great orator, he would be easily recognized as much too far to the left on the political spectrum to be an acceptable president for most Americans. I wish I had more confidence that voters will realize this before November, but I definitely fear that we're going to have a bunch of left-wing governmental programs shoved down our throat because we elected an attractive politician without really considering his policy objectives and their bad and unpredictable impact on our country and our lives.

Carl Pham wrote:

Well, I'm going to chime in with my usual ornery contrary take.

In the first place, I don't care very much that Obama sat in Wright's pew for years. The conspiracy black power crap that Wright spews is such totally standard booshwah for the Southside black church that I'm sure it rolled right over Obama unheard, like the noise of advertising during a favorite movie. I doubt he even heard it. For that matter, Wright himself may not have heard it as he spoke it, so standard-issue is it for this situation. It reminds me of the old farcical definition of 8 AM college lectures: "a process by which the notes of the professor become the notes of the student without passing through the minds of either." This rote rhetorical pablum may seem shocking to suburban white folks, but that just means they should get out more.

Furthermore, I can't see judging the man very much from where he purchases his Sunday sermons, any more than I judge him by where he buys his cars or legal services, and for the same basic reason. I don't give a damn where the President buys his cars, or his reasoning while doing so, and I don't care if his personal lawyer is shyster and abuser of small animals. And, since I don't think religion is at all important to the job of the President, I don't care much where the President gets his religious blather. The only way I would care is if a candidate started acting as if his religion very much determined his behaviour in secular areas of governance -- hello, Mike Huckabee! -- in which case, I have no use for the man.

Inasmuch as Obama clearly takes his governing philosophy from Harvard Law School limousine-liberal ideology, and not in the least from gritty Chicago street black power evangelism, I don't much care about his preacher. Do I give a damn that Obama turns out to be, OMFG, a reg'lar politician, wallowing in the normal cynical positioning of the breed, instead of a Messiah who will transform America into the One True Shining City On The Hill, Ein Volk, Ein Fuehrer, marching gloriously into a future free of argument and division? Uh, no. Rather glad if we've got past that dangerous and sickening illusion, actually.

Second point: I don't give a damn about his speech, either. We already know he gives great speech. Can anyone doubt he (or rather his well-paid speechwriters), given a week or so to think about it, can give us the usual oral pleasure he does so well? Do we doubt, either, that his speech will be long on soaring rhetoric and a bit short on hard facts and tough decisions? Isn't that who Obama is? Isn't that what his supporters like about him, and his detractors fear? What's new here, actually worth analyzing?

Anyway, this guilt-by-association crap we learned from the Stalinist left is detestable. First, we're supposed to dislike Obama because his wife is a narcissist loon, and now because his preacher is a dumfuk ex-plantation conspirazoid. That's nuts. I wouldn't vote for Obama, but ferfuxsake judge the man by his own character and actions, and leave off this doubtful stretch of measuring with fine calipers the exact distance he stands from folks in his life who should be taking Haldol. Any man who comes up from the sewer is bound to have some sewage stuck to him. Credit him for rising above it.

David Ross wrote:

At the end of Derb's post, which it's possible you hadn't read, Derb pointed out that 60% of black children attend schools which are 90% black. He also said he wanted Obama to understand why members of other races choose not to send their kids to schools which were majority black. He said that non-black parents view the black - nonblack ratio of a school as a marker for dysfunction.

He also mentioned, although (I think) in a different post, that whites are frustrated with blacks and that when whites are permitted to vent about such frustrations, they do so with rage and relief intermixed.

Orthodox Stevesailerism, in essence; but delivered in an angry and, um, frustrated tone. Sailer himself prefers a tone of sardonic bemusement.

As for why NRO and/or Derb decided to yank that piece, I can hazard a guess.

David Ross wrote:

Derb's post is back! Not sure for how much longer. Anyway here is the full thing -

Obama's Lies [John Derbyshire]

Not so much lies as a sort of slippery sleight-of-mouth. I'm starting to really dislike Obama.

"Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land."

Segregation was not "the law of the land" in the 1950s. It was the law in a minority of states.

"For the men and women of Reverend Wrights generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger occasionally finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews."

If, as Obama seems to be claiming, those are the sentiments only of Wright's generation, how come those whooping and clapping their approval in those sermon clips include lots of young people?

"Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends."

Fear of crime is not a legitimate emotion? Or is it just not legitimate for politicians to appeal to it? If, oh, say, some liberal Democratic governor of some state gives weekend furloughs to the perpetrator of a hideously callous murder who then, while on furlough, commits armed robbery and rape, why should criticism of that governor for that act be out of bounds in a political contest? Or should it only be out of bounds if the murderer is black?

"But it also means binding our particular grievances to the larger aspirations of all Americans the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family."

Well, I'm an immigrant, and I try hard to feed my family. And yes, I have grievances. For instance, I think I pay far too much tax in support of far too many public sector workers, most of whom do nothing useful. So how will you bind your "particular grievances" to mine, Senator? Or am I somehow unrepresentative of immigrants?

"This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care "

The lines in the Emergency Room at far too many U.S. hospitals are filled with illegal immigrants, preventing citizens from getting timely emergency help. What's your line on illegal immigration, Senator? Oh, right you're fine with it, as is the rest of your party.

"Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still havent fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between todays black and white students."

What on earth does this mean? It's true that there is widespread school segregation today. In my state, 60 percent of black students attend schools that are at least 90-percent black. From what I can see, the main reason for this is the great reluctance of nonblack parents to send their kids to schools with too many black students, which they assume are beset by all the problems associated with poorly run public schools. Do you think that they actually we, as my wife and I share this reluctance are wrong to think like this? How will you persuade us to think otherwise? Or will you depend on judicially-imposed forced integration of the schools?

And so on. You can go through Obama's speech pulling out questionable points like that from nearly every paragraph. The speech is slippery, evasive, dishonest, and sometimes insulting. Sorry, Charles [Murray].

Bray Melkovic wrote:

Obama has become his own minstrel show, in black face. Dancing around, doing the soft shoe, the shuck and jive. My how he dances! But he never says a thing.

s sommer wrote:

I have been checking around, taking the pulse of reaction to Obama's speech. (Also listened to a recording of it, and read it)

I am a McCain voter, but I could have gone for HIllary in the very beginning (she blew that idea very quickly, with her suggestion of 5K per kid born in America, remember that one?)

I might have gone for Obama, but what kind of crazy tells our enemies we are pulling out & gives them a moving out date??

So, guess I am going with the geezer, and praying his "senior moments" do not get worse. I have counted 5 bad ones, so far, including the bit about Al Q & Iran, today. Good Grief.

But, this speech.. Must say that I very much liked it.

Obama was gentle but forthright in describing a reality that both "sides" barely want to acknowledge.. I am reminded of Chris Rock's stand up comedy routine, where he claims that nobody is more "racist" than an old black man,. Guess he nailed it with that observation.. (rent the DVD, it is great.)

Obama deserves a lot of credit for calling it as he sees it, and he does not see it the way a lot of other people see it. He is thoughtful, perceptive, blunt but with kindness, generous to both sides.. recognizing but not condemning.

I read a lot of very crude words posted today, in opposition of Obama and deeply critical of him. I wondered if those who posted bothered to listen with an open mind.

Did not seem so, to me.

I live in a very white part of the country, and only have a couple of people I can truly call friends, who are black.

It took them YEARS before either one would talk to me about their own experiences of racism, and their pain and their fears from it.

Much of what they told me surprised me and horrified me.

Aside from me finding out that I did not know anything at all about what it is like to be black in many situations and places, I want to add that race is definitely not the big deal: class is the big deal. Class determines who we are comfortable with, whom we want to spend time with, far more than race does. That is something nobody talks about.

Obama said more than a few things I agree with, even if I do not agree with much of his political plan. America has one huge shame that most people do not seem to even see: because of the way we fund our public schools, there is a huge differential in the quality of schooling from one area to the next. That is not fair to kids in lesser neighborhoods.

It never has been fair. A good school can do a lot to open doors, create incentives and lift people above their lacking backgrounds. Even if your home life is bad, a good school can take you a long ways towards a better life. I know of many examples where that has happened. Many!

But, if the school is too poor & dysfunctional, forget it.

That is just the truth.

I wish Obama luck, and look forward to him contributing to the ongoing discussion & improving the quality of it.

He has indeed had that effect, despite Hillary & Bill's repeated attempts to drag everything down into a dirty dog fight.

Leland wrote:

Perhaps many people cannot remember what this country was like in the days after 9-11. I can. I remember a lot of grief and a lot of concern. I know that for several days, there was some hope that a few more people might be found alive under the remains of the WTC. But this is what one pastor was thinking on 9/16/01:

"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye. We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards."

Let's be very clear and honest, this isn't just what Jeremiah Wright thought at the time. He didn't regret the statement a few days later and apologize on CNN. He video taped the sermon, burned it to DVD, and sold it at his church ever since. Jeremiah Wright was proud of this, as he was when later he asked that his congregation should sing "God Damn America".

Yes, Jeremiah Wright is not Barack Obama. But Reverend Wright was Obama's spiritual advisor for 20 years. Obama might know a different Jeremiah Wright than the rest of us do, but I've seen enough of Jeremiah's character to know I wouldn't associate with him, nor take any advice from the man. I'm also not impressed with any person who would take advice from him.

From a political standpoint, Obama's speech is great rhetoric, but just that. Jeremiah Wright is not some wacky guy that donated to Obama's campaign. Rather, its the other way around, Obama followed this man for two decades, tithed at his church, and asked this man to baptise his daughter. Jeremiah Wright is not just someone who on occasion said something that was regrettable, but he bottled these comments and sold them to raise money. And its not just the pastor, but the congregation that cheers him on. These are the people Obama chose to associate and raise his children amongst. One speech doesn't erase 20 years of teaching.

When Obama says:
Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely - just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

I respond, I have heard such remarks, and not only did I disagree, but I immediately and instantanouesly stopped my patronage of that person. Obama on the other hand continued his patronage of Jeremiah Wright for 20 years; 7 years after Jeremiah asked his congregation and his believed creator to damn the US for daring to hold Al Qaeda responsible for the death of thousands of our countrymen. Today, we know that Obama knew of these things for some time (a point he denied just a few days ago on Fox News). Yet Jeremiah Wright only recently left Obama's campaign.

So you have a great speech from a man who learned at the foot of Jeremiah Wright for the past 20 years. Pardon me if I look past the rhetoric of a politician and take stock of the stuff that true character is made of. Don't judge a book by its cover and all that... In this case, I'm not impressed.

JMH wrote:

As a white guy, his speech was utterly predictable. And disappointing.

Slavery, and the Union soldiers who died to end it, had been over a hundred years in the grave by the time I was born. By my first day of Grade School, Little Rock High had graduated six classes of Black seniors who had never spent a day of their lives in a segregated school. Jim Crow drew his last breath before I drew my first. The Civil Rights Act was passed. Affirmative Action has been the law every day of my adult life. And yet the bitterness continues. Why?

I�ll tell you why. Because the Jeremiah Wrights of the world nurse it and the Barack Obamas of the world allow the Jeremiah Wrights of the world to infect generation after generation with it. Obama talks about an end to racial division while he smears his own grandmother in order to sell the hatred to one more generation, to justify the bitterness. I�m sick of it. If I am to believe what I�ve heard over the last few days, 90% of Black Americans believe at least some of what Wright has to say. How disgusting. How disheartening.

Well, the rest of us are over here. Here is the future, the integrated future that doesn�t care what color your skin is. But it also doesn�t think injustice suffered by your great-grandfather gives you any special status. Get over it. The rest of us are over here, waiting for you to join us. Until then, I don�t really have any time for you or the hate you�re selling.

Maurice wrote:

I read the speech,but haven't seen it on television.

two points..

1.) I think that this will effectively squash the 'Wright Controversy'.

2.) I think that the method and presentation of his argument publically reveal Obama's perspective on race to be conventional. He's offering a moderated, therapeutic, argument for identity politics. This is very much in line with current Progressive thinking on such matters. There's really no innovation here, expect for the fact that he refers to such politics as Unity.

It's probably become evident to most people who aren't besotted cool-aid drinkers that Obama is your garden variety left-Liberal, basically Barry Hussein Carter.

If I were on McCain's team, I'd mount a broad attack which compelled Obama to address a diverse range of issues. I think that this tactic would clarify just how far left Obama's thinking is, and result in his loss in a general election.

Jim Thomason wrote:

"Anyway, this guilt-by-association crap we learned from the Stalinist left is detestable. First, we're supposed to dislike Obama because his wife is a narcissist loon, and now because his preacher is a dumfuk ex-plantation conspirazoid. That's nuts. I wouldn't vote for Obama, but ferfuxsake judge the man by his own character and actions, "

Sorry, but you are completely wrong. This wasn't "learned from the Stalinist left". This is something that is so true and has been known for so long that it's literally a proverb:

A man is known by the company he keeps

The people someone voluntarily associates with shed a fair amount of light on that person's character. Choosing to stay at that church, having Wright as a mentor, etc. etc. ARE actions that Obama has taken and there is nothing wrong with considering those actions as well as any others that you might feel are more acceptable. If a man for 20 years goes to a church who's pastor - and apparently it's parishoners - are anti-American loons and racists, and sends his children to be taught and influenced by the same; then it is not only natural to judge him by those actions, it would be crazy not to.

The fact that there are many other reasons not to vote for him in no way, shape, or form takes away from the very real issues raised by the company that he keeps.

chip wrote:

No speech, no matter how great, can explain away why Obama idolized Wright for 20 years.

So the question is, if most people immediately recognize Wright as a laughable nutcake, and Obama could not for two decades, why on Earth is he still in the race let alone receiving plaudits for his speech across the media spectrum?

The answer, I think, is that we are not much different from many people in history who have been wooed by charismatic leaders. Hopefully, we won't pay the price that has so often been paid in history when charisma trumped common sense.

The people someone voluntarily associates with shed a fair amount of light on that person's character.

Hillary Clinton: Bill Clinton

John McCain: Cindy McCain

Looks like we have sh*t for choices this election, based on the above litmus test.

Harry Eagar wrote:


Yeah, as in, I reject, repudiaste and condemn your hateful ideas, here's $20,000 to spread them around.

When Obama repudiated Farrakhan, I thought, OK, good enough. If this other minister, Wright, was so important to his development, it would be almost cruel to expect him to turn his back on his mentor/spiritual adviser just because that adviser is too cozy with a nut like Farrakhan.

That was a soft-hearted and soft-headed reaction.

This is a matter of decency. There are some things no decent person will do, and staying in the same room with a hate-filled, racist is one of them.

Bill Whittle wrote:

'Guilt by association'is an unfair criticism if the association is passing and superficial. If, on the other hand, I go to Precious Moment Figurines Conventions, Blog about Precious Moment Figurines, am married by the man who sells me my Precious Moments Figurines, and sit in a room once a week for 20 years (what's that? One Thousand times?)... could you not then deduce that I have an affinity for Precious Moments Figurines?

The INSTANT that "Reverend" said God Damn America I would have been out the door. EVERYONE who loves this country in their bones feels the same way. You can spin this all you want to, but you cannot tell me that 20 years of finding Wright "not very controversial', of a wife who has never been proud of America, and despite whose refusal to wear a flag pin or recite the pledge due to a discomfort with 'in your face patriotism' now surrounds himself with flags and for the first time in this campaign says God Bless America! is somehow a healer? How united do you feel now? Huh? Feel more hopeful now that you've heard Obama's spiritual advisor? Looking forward to the kind of change that philosophy will bring?

You think a few flowery words from a gifted professional somehow counterbalances all that? Are you sure? Is there ANYTHING you won't believe?

The man is either a complete charlatan who believes this in his bones, or he is a ruthless political machine who sits where the political gain is the greatest. There is no other rational explanation.

tom swift wrote:

Obama's speech had a few real clangers. The attempt to draw moral equivalence between what Ferraro and Wright have said, for instance, was just insulting. And that weird line about people who don't have health care lining up at the emergency room - what are they going to the emergency room for, the afternoon movie? But it was overall pretty pedestrian and not too inflammatory.

But it was the wrong speech. He failed utterly to address the current challenge - to explain why he's spent nearly half his life looking for spiritual guidance from a man who sounds like one of the most vicious racists America has ever spawned. Was it a deliberate attempt to change the subject? Or is Obama really so obtuse that he doesn't grasp what the problem is?

Broadsword wrote:

My reaction to Wright is the same as Bill Whittle's, visceral disgust. And it took only two seconds, not twenty years. I think Barry measures all things to niceity in a scale of power and advance. Derb is also correct, the speech is " slippery, evasive, dishonest..." Following one of President Clinton's SOTU speeches, the pressers gushed with admiration and affection, (effection...?) "What a terrific speech. I thought it was a great speech. A powerful speech."
(I am inventing quotes but not the sentiments.) Who remembers President Clinton's most famous utterances know they came from no speech. Before Lincoln spoke for two minutes, it was, I believe, Edward Everett who spoke for two hours to cheers and clamor. Here's a quote from those two hours we all remember from history, "....". After President Lincoln spoke, Everett reportedly said, "Mr. President, you said in two minutes what I could not in two hours." I could be wrong about the name, confusing him with Edward Everett Horton. The "two hours, two minutes" might be apocryphal. As the Seinfeld TV show was about nothing, Barak speechifies about nothing. Give yourself three days, then call up to mind the most memorable phrase; say it aloud. Has it any wings? These phrases still ascend: "To live out the meaning of our creed." "That this nation, or any nation so conceived..." "That should the British Empire last a thousand years, men will still say..." "I know not what course other shall take, but for me, give me..." " These are the times that try..." Did you notice yourself filling in the ellipses? I rest my case.

ESS wrote:


Evidently you have been searching to find fault with Obama, and now in your mind, you have found it.

Do you even belong to a church? Does your pastor or religious leader even speak to current events in the community? Does he or she speak to communities that are not their own? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and as far as facts are concerned, you are too narrow minded to even open up to the possibility that America can be just as mercenary as any other country. America does things like kill people to start a coup, and blame it on someone else. There are politicians and cops that plant drugs, scandals, and murder on people to get them locked up and killed for crimes they did not commit. So get your preachy head out of your uninformed butt.

Obama is not an idiot, far from it, and there must have been decent qualities in this man even if Obama doesn't sanction every word that comes from this man's mouth. I don't sanction every word that comes out of Bush's mouth, because he's a man. Just because he is president doesn't mean he is always right, telling the truth, or for all the people.

Mac wrote:

s sommer: I live in a very white part of the country, and only have a couple of people I can truly call friends, who are black.

Uh huh, and some of my best friends are white. So what?

s sommer: Much of what they told me surprised me and horrified me.

You haven't read history and been horrified enough?
The hatred coming from Wright doesn't horrify you? Is that because, being black, he cannot possibly be racist? Obama chose to remain associated with his pastor for 20 years, even after hearing these ideas from him. To truly unify, one must be uniform, to all. Treat every race the same and treat every sex the same. Obama appears to say the same thing, but because of the association with a racist, I can't believe it.

Karl Hoist-Petard wrote:

Look to the future: As President, this man would appoint Supreme Court justices, a cabinet, an entire executive branch, using his personal judgment of their competence and character.

Your typical wine and latte liberal, with one foot still in the '60s, wants to heal America's racial situation by moving past the hate, and applying the drug of love to offer an apology, ask forgiveness, and wants it all forgotten. Pastor Wright will never forget, spits at any apologies, and takes the drug of hate directly in the vein.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on March 18, 2008 6:41 AM.

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